Wing Commander Information Center

Lieutenant Commander Kien Chen (callsign Bossman, formerly Ripper[1]) was a Terran Confederation pilot assigned to the TCS Tiger's Claw during the Terran-Kilrathi War. He cooperated in the Vega Campaign, Operation: Thor's Hammer, and the liberation of Firekka.

The character is firstly established in the original game as Kien Chen. He is later mentioned in the Wing Commander film as Charles Chen[2], in the novelization and Pilgrim Stars as Vince Chen,[3][4] and in the Terran Confederation Handbook both as Kien[5] and Vince,[6] while in one occasion his name seems reversed (Chen "Bossman" Kien).[7] (this is not necessarily an error, see Chinese naming convention, for order of names) Although he is based on and intended to be the Kien Chen of the original game, he is mentioned to be dead in the prequels.


Kien Chen was born in Kaoshiung, Taiwan on Earth. He was a pilot for the Terran Confederation since 2637. He also had a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Confederation Net university system.[8]

Chen had a reckless and aggressive character against the Kilrathi bogeys and was called "Ripper". However seeing new pilots trying to imitate him (and being not so lucky as him) he decided to give a different example by leading a different philosophy; and he became a model pilot. Thus, he became a source of reliable advice to his comrades and his splendid leadership in combat, he took the callsign "Bossman".[8][1]

By 2654 he married to ergonomics engineer Mingxing Chen and that March, he became the father of a baby girl in 2653. He held the rank of Major by the time he was assigned to the TCS Tiger's Claw.[8]

Pilgrim Crisis[]

Chen was considered an invaluable pilot, a gifted natural leader of his squadron, giving instructions to the younger pilots and advicing officers. He was a close friend to Jeannette Deveraux. By the time he was a Lieutenant Commander he was the third highest-ranking ace in this squadron by kill-count. Piloting his F44-A Rapier 35.[6][9] Bossman made 2 capital ship kills and 26 fighter kills and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor in the face of the enemy.

In the Wing Commander film, his Rapier is seen to have painted the number 13 (see CF-117 Rapier 13) and bears marks of 30 kills. Wing Commander 1 gives him 42 kills. Super Wing Commander has him listed with 104 kills. As they are clearly two different types of ships its possible that the numbers relate to those ships, not necessarily his entire career.

Confederation records reported that on 2654.070, while the Claw was was conducting sweeps of routes known to be frequented by Kilrathi spies and pirates in the Roberts Quadrant of the Vega Sector, Chen commanded a wing of four Rapiers for the regular afternoon patrol. 24 minutes later his wing detected and engaged a Kilrathi corvette escorted by three Dralthis. Bossman killed 2 of the Dralthi and successfully coordinated the assault against the corvette, having suffered some damage.

The report claims Bossman sent 2 of the Rapiers with damaged weapons and communication systems back to the Claw and stayed behind to escort the last ship, piloted by William Jefferson, which had damaged engines. Then he encountered a patrol of 4 Dralthi. Jefferson was easily destroyed and Bossman managed to destroy some of the attackers. However, his engines were damaged and caused an overload in the reactor core; for some reason Bossman did not eject and was killed instantly by the radiation.[6][7]

It was claimed that his fighter was recovered, decontaminated and his body buried at space. Jason Sansky recommended Chen be posthumously awarded the Red Comet for pilots honorably killed in action, and a second Bronze Star, in accordance with the highest standards of Space Force honor and valor.[6][7] leaving behind a wife and a little daughter who would never know him.[1]

In the movie novelization, the computer slate of Chen's Rapier states that the fighter came in "8 hours earlier" (as of .074) from a sortie on the fringe of Enyo system. This seems to suggest that Chen died 4 days later than the date given in the Cofederation Handbook, or that the crew took 4 days to collect and bring back the wreckage (though the wording of the sentence suggests that the sortie occurred eight hours earlier).

Christopher Blair came as his replacement.[10]

Chen's death is mentioned in the Wing Commander film and the accompanying publications. Ths is odd as he is one of the main characters in the original Wing Commander I which takes place later, during the Vega Campaign. No explanation of his "death" and subsequent "survival" was given.
It is interesting to note that Chen's character is surrounded by several inconsistencies, not the least of which is his variety of names (Kien in the game, Charles in the movie prop, Vince in the
Handbook); these, coupled with the "classified" nature of his last fateful mission, might suggest that there is more than it seems.

Vega Campaign[]


Bossman has an article in the 2654.110 issue of Claw Marks the first official date of the Vega Campaign proper. At the time the TIger's Claw was stationed in Hell's Kitchen above Netheranya (Toadstool).[11]

The last time Bossman is mentioned as 'dead/missing' is in chapter 11 of Pilgrim's Stars which is on 2654.088. The Claw Marks 2654.110 issue confirms that Bossman returned a little after a month after the film. Bossman doesn't appear in the game until second half of McAulliffe series. Although Carl T. LaFong met him some time earlier before Enyo in his memoirs. This would suggest that he had to have returned after .088 but before 2654.110.

In later part of the year (August/September), he became a good friend of Christopher Blair, Carl T. LaFong and Jason Armstrong, who were that time still rookie pilots. LaFong met when he transfered from the Formidable in the latter half of the year (around August/September). Bossman used his knowledge gained from flying to help Blair, LaFong and other new pilots in the field.

During the Vega Campaign, the Confed turned to the offensive and the Claw entered the Kurasawa system against the Kilrathi bases. Bossman flew the Theta Wing with Carl T. LaFong[12][13] in Rapiers in order to engage three Dorkir-class transports arriving to supply the bases, including a command staff ship.[14] The pair also flew later in a mission to escort a captured Ralari-class to the Claw in order to assist with the sieges[15] however they failed to protect it.[16] Finally, they successfully managed to escort the TCS Formidable to the Claw.[17]

Bossman also flies with Bluehair in the losing non-canon scenario of the Hubble's Star system. They fly as backup to Hunter and Flashfire to protect the colonists by patrolling from Kilrathi incursion,[18] then escort two Drayman-class to the Claw for refueling[19]. Finally, while the Claw was defending Hubble's Star IV, they went to recon a flight of Krants and then had to defend the Claw against an assault led by Bakhtosh nar Kiranka.[20] According to The Memoirs of Lieutenant Colonel Carl T. LaFong these missions were done by pilots of the TCS Eagle's Talon.

Goddard Campaign[]

He was also one of the few believers in the capture of TCS Gwenhyvar, an Exeter-class Destroyer the Kilrathi were using to attack human ships.[21] His belief in the ship's existence proved true when LaFong destroyed the vessel during a mission in Operation: Thor's Hammer in 2655.[22]

With LaFong they flew a Scimitar in the Midgard system as Delta Wing, with the task to destroy TCS Falstaff so that it wouldn't fall in Kilrathi hands and during the mission they engaged a Ralari-class.[23] Soon after, flying as Gamma Wing, they escorted a Dralthi that was captured by the Reavers back to the Claw.[24]

Secret Missions 1.5[]

While flying with Angel, Bossman was lost and presumed dead in Cairo system. They were waiting for his wife to arrive before they had his funeral service.

Bossman's "death" in Secret Missions 1.5 is a mix of his death from Secret Missions 2 and some of the original story material introduced for Super Wing Commander.

Firekka Campaign[]

Bossman was in the Firekka System at the time that the Kilrathi invaded the defenseless planet. He hoped to bring his family to see the planet on a holiday after Confed removed the Kilrathi from the planet.[25] Tragically, he did not live to see that day.

Major Chen attended the funeral of Puma, Spirit's wingman, who was killed by Kilrathi fighters while flying patrol. Spirit was feeling reponsible for his death and Hunter tried to console her. Maniac rudely told him to not push his luck with her, causing Bossman to give Maniac a sharp look. He offered Hunter a beer at the Rec Room with Knight, just then the ship's intercom system called them to the flight deck. It was reported that a Kilrathi Fralthi-class declared its defection and solo patrols spread out to locate it.[26]

The TCS Holmen boarded the ship and reported that another Fralthi the KIS Kraj'nishk moved against them, so he diverted to course to assist the KIS Ras Nik'hra. He was joined by Spirit and Hunter. The Imperial Fralthi launched a Jalthi and Bossman told the other pilots to 'burner past it as he'd keep it occupied, and try to preent the Fralthi from launching more fighters. Spirit fired against its launch bay and once Bossman took care of the Jalthi, he assisted Hunter by drawing the Fralthi's turret fire. Hunter destroyed the Fralthi and Bossman escorted the Ras Nik'hra back to the Claw.[27]

By the next week, Kilrathi presence increased and Halcyon arranged for more frequent and intense patrols. Bossman was assigned as Gamma Wing with Angel. They were patrolling the jump point area, when suddenly a Kilrathi strike force - a Fralthi-class, several corvettes, 2 Lumbari-class tankers - surrounded them. Bossman knew that even if they retreated to their carrier, the corvettes would overtake them. He ordered Angel to return to the Claw, and attacked the Fralthi by himself. He managed to keep them busy long enough for Angel to get out of range while he kept transmitting to her as much information as he could, the number of fighters, their course, new arrivals so that she could warn the others. His last words to Angel was "Angel, tell my wife I love her" before his image was replaced by static.[28]

Bossman was flying alongside Major Jeannette Devereaux on a patrol on 2655.271[Source?] when the Kilrathi Imperial Guard ambushed them. Bossman was killed while trying to save Angel's life, who managed to get away.[29]

Bossman's death was a devastating loss for the Claw, since they had gotten used to taking advice from him. Angel kept blaming herself for Bossman's death[28] and it was a while before she forgave herself. The loss had been hard for both Carl T. LaFong[30] and Christopher Blair.[31]

Bossman is survived by his wife, Mingxing and a daughter who was born in 2653. As of 2655, they live in San Francisco, California.


Maniac with Bossman in the bar

In his younger days, Bossman had been a pilot who liked to push everything to the limit, comparing himself to Hunter, until he decided to make a better example.[8] Bossman was one of the best pilots in the squadron and always as steady as rock. He spent nights with Hunter drinking beer in the Rec Room.[28]

He would be found in the bar shuffling a deck of cards, and his name was seen among the TrainSim top scores.

Behind the scenes[]

Bossman "dies" at least three recorded times in the various published stories in the movie, in Missions 1.5 in the Cairo system, and during the Firekka series. He also can die at any point during Wing Commander 1 with little impact to the story itself. There are two interpretations of his "final" death between Secret Missions 2 (see The Memoirs of Lieutenant Colonel T. LaFong: The Kilrathi War's Greatest Ace (TCSN, Retired) and Freedom Flight.

WC1 VDU Bossman.png

When Bossman dies in Wing Commander, these words are heard in his funeral:

"The Terran Confederation has lost one of its best leaders. Major Kien Chen, whom we all knew as Bossman. Many of us, myself included, turned to Major Chen for advice from time to time. Now we must find our own answers."
Peter Halcyon
"I hope someday I'll make you proud, Bossman. Goodbye."

In Operation: Thor's Hammer this becomes:

"Sadly, we must pay our last respects to a seasoned veteran. Major Kien Chen, whom we all knew as Bossman. In our time of uncertainty, Major Chen was always ready to lend himself to anyone who needed guidance. He will be missed."
Peter Halcyon
"I'll try to follow your example of leadership, Bossman. Goodbye."

Kien CHen's death in the film is strange, but may be explained if he has Pilgrim ancestry. Pilgrim Stars hints at death does not necessarily mean the end for Pilgrims (with Devi Soulsong appearing to still be alive and communicating with her son), and Pilgrim Truth establishes that extrakinetics such as Pilgrims or others mutant humans may be able to develop the ability to project themselves in more place than one, not create clones per se but create doubles, multiples of dopplegangers each physically existing and each part of the whole. This is used to explain how one pilot Mango is able to attack Christopher Blair's fighter, and is shot down. Some believe he had died, but Blair believes he has seen him elsewhere. Blair suggests extrakinetics as an explanation of him being in more than one place at once as well as appearing to die, but not actually dieing, and coming back later. He points this out as a theory, but has no way of knowing if it really would happen. This ability may be both natural instinct or even controllable. Also adding the ability to project these individual beings into other places (sort of like teleportation) This appears to be a nod to the fans speculations about dead or disappearing characters coming back; to offer an explanation to a number of characters with similar discrepancies such as Knight, Kien Chen, Shamus and Delli Taggart, etc (it could even apply to Blair's "disappearance" during the Nephilim War allowing the possibility for his return, as he shows the ability to pull it off in the book), infact a vision Blair is given seems to support that he survived the Nephilim war doing this very thing.

At least one Chen could be explained away as Kien Chen's brother or relative (if there can be two Mavericks on board why not two "Bossmans"?). Some fans have taken this route. However unlike Blair and Armstrong this has not officially been suggested yet (see Star*Soldier). Also per tradition it may be unlikely for relatives to serve on the same ship in case both die, and no one is left to carry the family name, but maybe not applicable if they were cousins.

Finally the 'death' may have been staged for whatever reason, in an attempt to make it look like he died, while he was off on some other clandestine espionage mission for the Confederation. Faked body, remote controlled ship, communicating to wingman from an outside source. Made to look so authentic he was able to trick his own lover (or she as his commander, was in on it, but put on a good act of sorrow, and lies to protect Bossman's real whereabouts). One piece of information is that its never noted 'who' recovered Chen's ship, and who 'saw' the body (its at least implied that Angel may have been witness to it). Of course an 'empty' burial pod could be buried in space, or even a rigged burial pod with life support to keep him 'alive' but appearing dead. Also death by 'radiation' could be 'faked', but in reality he was simply in suspended animation (vitals dropped to give him the appearance of 'death'). But secret mission, would require smuggling him off the ship in this way? Who knows.

Or perhaps he was 'kidnapped' by Kilrathi (much as Taggart had once been) who left behind a badly mangled body (severe 'radiation burns') in his place for whatever reason, and he later escaped.

One popular theory and one discussed by Ben Lesnick but not yet introduced into official continuity to explain his "death" in the movie is that Bossman had been captured by the Kilrathi pried out of his fighter by Kilrathi slavers and underwent torture before he escaped or was rescued. He points out a practice mentioned in one of the novels End Run that capturing by Kilrathi was a fate worth than death and that some of their fellow wingman preferred to think of them as dead rather than to think of what the person was going through. The reports of irriadiated body was just a falsification for the family's sake to hide what really happened to him.[32]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Peter Telep, Wing Commander, ch. 16
  2. Painted on side of the Rapier 13 prop in the movie.
  3. Peter Telep, Wing Commander, ch. {{{1}}}
  4. Pilgrim Stars, pg
  5. Handbook, p. 5
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Chris McCubbin, Official Authorized Wing Commander Confederation Handbook, SF Lt. Cmdr. Kien Chen's Death
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Chris McCubbin, Official Authorized Wing Commander Confederation Handbook, Casualties Among the 88th Fighter Wing
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Claw Marks (Wing Commander I box package), Pilot Profiles
  9. Peter Telep, Wing Commander, ch. 61
  10. Wing Commander film
  11. Pilgrim Stars, pg
  12. WC1&2G, pg
  13. Star*Soldier, 26
  14. Wing Commander I, Kurasawa series (Mission 1)
  15. Wing Commander I, Kurasawa series (Mission 2)
  16. The Memoirs of Lieutenant Colonel Carl T. LaFong
  17. Wing Commander I, Kurasawa series (Mission 3)
  18. Wing Commander I, Hubble's Star series (Mission 1)
  19. Wing Commander I, Hubble's Star series (Mission 2)
  20. Wing Commander I, Hubble's Star series (Mission 3)
  21. Wing Commander I, Goddard series (Mission 1)
  22. Wing Commander I, Jotunheim series (Mission 3)
  23. Wing Commander I, Midgard series (Mission 1)
  24. Wing Commander I, Midgard series (Mission 2)
  25. Wing Commander I, Firekka series (Mission b1)
  26. Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 4
  27. Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 5
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon, Freedom Flight, Chapter 6
  29. Wing Commander I, Firekka series (Mission b2), Debriefing
  30. WC1&2G, pg
  31. WC3 Novel, Chapter 1